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Photo: Debarchan Chatterjee/NurPhoto via Getty Images

India announced Sunday that it's granted emergency approval to COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and one from the state-run institute Bharat Biotech.

Why it matters: These are the first vaccines granted emergency approval in the country of over 1.3 billion, which has the second largest virus outbreak after the U.S. Indian officials plan to start a huge immunization drive within a week.

Of note: Bharat Biotch's Covaxin vaccine is still in stage 3 clinical trials in India and the final results are yet to be released.

  • The Drugs Controller General of India said in a statement, "The Phase III efficacy trial was initiated in India in 25,800 volunteers and [to] date, 22,500 participants have been vaccinated across the country and the vaccine has been found to be safe as per the data available."
  • India is the second country to approve the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after the U.K. approved it this week. News that this would be approved broke Friday but it wasn't confirmed until Sunday.

By the numbers: India has more than 10.3 million confirmed cases and over 149,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins University data.

The big picture: Adults older than 50, people with pre-existing conditions, medical and frontline workers will be the first to get the vaccine, according to NPR.

  • India conducted mock vaccinations on Saturday across the country to prepare for vaccine distribution.

For the record: Although AstraZeneca's vaccine is cheaper and easier to use than others, research published in December confirmed the vaccine was about 62% effective.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the Indian regulator's announcement.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Updated 19 mins ago - World

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

The latest: Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters later on Saturday, "I decided to fight back as long as I can."